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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-10 of 14 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 28 reviews
on November 12, 2012
I just emailed my DIL to order three copies of SUMMER AND BIRD for my pre-teen granddaughters and send the bill to me. This is a very good book - thoughtful and serious, yet fanciful enough to appeal to young readers. On the outside, it's a lyrical story of two sisters, Summer and Bird, who set out to find their parents after they mysteriously disappeared from their home in the dead of night. On the inside, it's the story of a family's disintegration, but with a sweet, not a bitter or sad ending. That ending is foreshadowed by an early reference to a verse in the King James version of Genesis: "I will not let thee go except thou bless me."

I believe Katherine Catmull's rich and fluid prose will appeal to a broader audience than was originally intended. Parents will appreciate her familiarity with Kafka, Keats and Blake, as well as the challenging vocabulary she sets before their children - words like "cerulean," "nexus," "hieroglyphic," and "balustrade." And who cannot appreciate a well-turned phrase - "a rushing sound beneath the quiet," "a white wing edged with rippling sable," or "an appetite opened wide as a hatchling's beak."

As an aside, when I first glimpsed the title I read it to be "Summer Bird," and I half expected a story about the famous racehorse of that same name, winner of the 2009 Belmont Stakes, and now retired to stud at Winstar Farm in Kentucky. But alas, the story of that famous racehorse family - Storm Bird, Dear Birdie, Birdstone, and Mine That Bird - will have to wait. Who to better write it than Katherine Catmull?
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on October 29, 2012
This (breathtaking accomplished) first novel sometimes reminds me of Tolkien or Lewis with its heightened language and imaginative creations. And of course it's aimed at Young Adults, and what matters for them most, even more than the sense of wonder, is that the young characters and their language feel emotionally true (that truth is large part of the power of Rowling and Pratchett). Catmull gives us all this in SUMMER AND BIRD, and that is why, I think, adults as well as well as younger readers will like it. SUMMER AND BIRD reminds me a great deal of the enjoyment with which I first read Madeleine L'Engle's A WRINKLE IN TIME. I reread the L'Engle book again and again as a kid, and (much later) with great enjoyment as an adult, and I expect to come back to SUMMER AND BIRD the same way. This is a lovely book for adults and children to share. It's also an excellent exemplar of the kind of book Tolkien describes in his essay "On Fairy Stories" -- books set in a Secondary (imagined) World that confront readers with darkness but also with joy. 'It is the mark of a good fairy-story," Tolkien writes, "of the higher or more complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic or terrible the adventures, it can give to child or man that hears it, when the "turn" comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art, and having a peculiar quality.' SUMMER AND BIRD has that same "peculiar" (and lifting-of-the-heart) quality.
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on February 21, 2017
While reading this book, I was consistently slightly dissapointed and annoyed- not enough to put it down, but that might have been a function of having read it on a bus while bored out of my mind. The writing is good, and some moments of world-building and myth-building within the story remind me of Neil Gaiman. But the characters are not compelling, and a great deal of the book is them wondering around boring landscapes, which is an absolute snoozefest. The 2 characters I was interested in - the Puppeteer and the Phoenix- were barely there, and we were left with good girl Summer, stupid girl Bird, and their Mom and Dad of whom we don't know enough to care for them. Characters always cry, their hearts consistently do tacky things like opening and closing and bleeding and talking and healing ad nauseum. I know that as a younder reader, who this book is aimed at, I wouldn't have gotten through the first 50 pages. But it helped me survived a ride on the crappiest bus in the observable universe, so I give it 2 stars.
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on November 13, 2015
This book was pure magic. I started it expecting great things, and I was not disappointed. From the beginning I was drawn in, ensnared by the lovely web of the story, and I didn't want to break free. If you love tales of sisters, of magic, of fairy tales, of longing and myth and birds, this book is for you.

Favorite quote:
"But when you find your soul, you have to go. When you find your true shape, when the wind lifts you up, when you remember who you are, you have to go."
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on June 14, 2013
This book was written in a different style than I usually read, but it was a nice change. The language was mesmerizing and there were so many lovely vivid images that I was really inspired by as an artist. It starts off intriguing, then the pace slows down, but by the last quarter or so I couldn't put it down. The sections with little action were just brimming with imagery, though. The relationships between the characters was really well done but it often felt depressing..... I dunno, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book emotionally, which I think is what makes a book most memorable (in a good way.)

PS I loved Ben. He was my favorite :)
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on October 20, 2012
This is one of the best books I've read all year - suitable both for kids but also adults, and especially anyone who has siblings. The story is inventive and original, managing to make a new space in the fairytale genre - it seems simultaneously familiar and new. The prose is excellent, and better than what you find in most books for young adults these days, where the sentences don't flow well or are obviously clunky. More than anything, I was struck by how wise this book seems about sibling relationships and parent-child relationships, while not being didactic or moralistic. I've recommended this book to my friends and plan to gift it to my younger cousins for Christmas.
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on April 3, 2017
Great Book! got it for my little cousin (14 Years Old) and she loved it. If you have a sister its a great book!
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on September 29, 2016
interesting story ... full of images...nicely done ... enough that I have gone on to read her "Radiant Road"
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on June 5, 2014
The book features important values and issues that people commonly face, such as familial issues, but presents them in a way that would draw in any reader with a whimsical heart. Summer and Bird show the difficulties of sibling love and hate and how the two can coexist.
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on February 16, 2013
Such a lovely debut novel for Ms. Catmull. SUMMER AND BIRD is the best Middle Grade book I've read in years. Not only is the plot magical, but so is the stunning prose. A beautiful read for adults as well as middle graders! So glad I bought this one.
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